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The Hail Mary is very often called a 'prayer'.

Some Catholics like to distinguish between 'praying', which is only said to God, and 'asking' which is acceptable for the deceased saints.

So is the Hail Mary a prayer (even though it's offered to Mary) or something else? Answers from any perspective which uses the Hail Mary would be welcome.

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To @curiousdannii : Sorry didn't see that. Also can you please clarify who says praying is only said to God? –  Jayarathina Madharasan May 22 at 8:29
    
See this answer for example. And most definitions of 'pray' say that it is directed to deities. –  curiousdannii May 22 at 8:33
    
It is a long football pass at the end of a game or half. –  Narnian May 22 at 12:32
    
Answering whether something is a prayer or not requires understanding what prayer is. To many, namely protestants, prayer is often "talking to God," therefore prayer to anyone/thing other than God is either impossible or blasphemous. However there are other definitions--one can pray to a King, a parent, or even a friend, in the sense that a prayer is simply a petition. The sense in which you define prayer will no doubt change the answer to this question, thus I suggest that a better question would be about the nature of Mary, and whether she can receive petitions from believers. –  Flimzy May 22 at 19:43

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According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (in particular paragraphs #2673 through #2682 which explore the words of the Hail Mary) it seems as if the Hail Mary is considered a prayer. Here are a few excerpts:

  1. "Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries..."
  2. "Holy Mary, Mother of God...by entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: "Thy will be done."

Additionally, the Catechism calls Mary herself "the perfect prayer" and says that "when we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men."

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